Friday, August 04, 2006

I was a 1st Grade Conman

I’ve been reading a lot about sideshows and carny grift lately, both books and online. It got me thinking about this memory.

First, you should know I am the “black sheep” of the family. My father worked in a truck parts warehouse. My mother worked in a candy factory and then was a nurse’s aide. They were working class people who never cheated anyone, ever. They also never showed an inclination to the arts. Which made my life all the more disconcerting and, at times, difficult to understand.

Where it came from, I do not know, but it came early.

I was about 8 years-old.
My mother had a few these small decorative bottles, no more than 4 inches tall. They were blue and green cut glass knick-knacks that sat on the mirrored shelves next to our fake fireplace.

I took these bottles and tried to sell them door to door down our street. I not only tried to sell them, but I tried to weave a story. “The bottles were “discovered” buried in my backyard, possibly for a hundred years. Maybe by pirates”. (I was 8.) “They could be valuable, but you can have them now. How much will you give me for ‘em?”

I didn’t sell any. My grandfather, who lived across the street and sat watching the neighborhood all day, turned me in. My parents didn’t really punish me. It was more of a don’t do that again kind of talk.

The real telling thing I saved for last. I actually did dig up those bottles in the backyard. I buried them myself a week earlier to dirty them up and make my pitch more real. I planned the whole thing.

It makes me wonder, nature or nurture, nurture or nature.
Where do we come from?

Oh...and...if you need for couple of bottles to fill out that shelf of bric-a-brac.
Let me know. I'll give you a good price.

1 comment:

Neil Tobin said...

Hilarious story, Bill. Thanks!